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Welcome back, Kapler and Crisp

Source: Boston Dirt Dogs
Gabe Kapler will soon return to the green grass of Fenway Park after an injury that left him laying in September.
It won't be long until Red Sox fans see a couple of familiar faces back in the outfield of Fenway Park.

Coco Crisp, who has been out since early April with a fractured finger and has been battling kidney stones, began swinging the bat Monday. He'll begin a minor league assignment at some point this week.

Another outfielder set to come back is Gabe Kapler, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon on September 15 last year while rounding the bases. Kapler, who has taken his time to come back completely healthy, will see a lot of playing time in the minor leagues before being called up to the Boston roster.

Two returning outfielders, two spots they have to take on the 25-man roster.

The obvious candidates are light-hitting Willie Harris and sparingly-used Dustan Mohr. Barring any other injuries that may happen from now until then, sending Mohr and Harris to Pawtucket is what will happen. However, that kind of leaves us in a bind.

I don't think we really lose anything with Mohr gone. His `specialty' is hitting left-handers, but that will probably be Wily Mo Pena's job when Pena is once again a backup. We do lose, however, Mohr's solid defense in any outfield position we may need him in.

With Harris, though, we lose speed off the bench. Kapler has always been speedy - he hustles more than any other baseball player I've watched - but the question needs to be asked: will Kapler be as fast when he comes back from his injury?

The one thing that effects speed the most - other than losing your whole foot - is hurting the Achilles tendon. And we all saw how fast Kapler hit the ground when it originally ruptured. If that bothers him in the slightest, he won't be half as fast as he was pre-injury.

This brings up another question: do we want Kapler on the 25-man roster? The gut says `yes' because of what he brings to the table, but why do we need five outfielders? Kapler may have the speed, but if he doesn't, the only good thing we could get out of him his the locker room presence he's so famous for.

With an extra roster spot, we could have a 12th pitcher (odds are Jermaine Van Buren will be demoted when David Wells comes back to start on Friday) or another infielder - maybe Alejandro Machado, who is struggling at Pawtucket but the front office loves him.

It may or may not be a problem depending on Kapler's status, but if it is, at least it's a GOOD problem to have.